Jim Poelman has been hired for the position by the Kodiak Area Native Association, which funds the VPSO program on Kodiak Island. Public safety officers provide public safety services and law enforcement in villages without a city police department or trooper detachment. Officers live in the villages and provide services like search and rescue, crime prevention, fire protection and emergency medical assistance.
Poelman was expected to arrive in Kodiak on Monday from McGrath, a small town on the Kuskokwim River. He will spend the next several weeks going through training in town before he moves to Ouzinkie, as he has not received any formal training yet. Poelman is also expected to go through the Public Safety Training Academy in Sitka early next year.
“There’s some general orientation training we’d like provide to him before he heads out to the village,” KANA’s VPSO coordinator T.C. Kamai said. “That might include some patrol ride-alongs with the (Alaska State) Troopers and working with some VPSO training officers here in Kodiak before he finally reports out there.”
Poelman and his son, Ben, were both recently hired as VPSOs, but his son will take a position in Akutan.
“I think he’ll be a good fit,” Kamai said. “I’m hopeful that he’ll integrate well. Coming from a small interior community and relocating to Ouzinkie, I think he’ll fit in.”
There are six VPSOs on Kodiak Island: Ouzinkie, Old Harbor, Akhiok, Port Lions, Larsen Bay and a roving officer.
Ouzinkie has been without a VPSO for several months, but the roving officer based in Kodiak has maintained a public safety presence in the area.
Larsen Bay also has a VPSO vacancy that Kamai said is in the process of being filled.
“We’re still in the process of hiring for that. We just interviewed two candidates for that last week, and we’re moving forward in the process to find a VPSO for Larsen Bay,” he said.
Kamai said it can be tough to hire for the positions because of the remote locations officers have to live in, but KANA specifically advertised the two vacancies so people could have a choice of which village they wanted to apply to.
As of Monday, 98 of the 121 VPSO positions in the state were filled, according to Alaska Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.
Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at email@example.com.